But last week's spectacular series of leaks, counter-leaks and counter-counter-leaks revealed (and continues revealing) a disdain for free speech that shocked even us. It turns out that a consortium of private "cyber-security" firms were developing a $2m proposal to use a variety of sophisticated disinformation techniques to destroy the reputations of Chamber opponents, including public-interest, consumer-advocate and worker-rights groups such as US Chamber Watch and Change to Win. (The same firm was reportedly also proposing, in a presentation for Bank of America, a plot to destroy WikiLeaks, and to "neutralise" constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com.)
and then ....
More specifically, the firm proposed to (according to a leaked document) "create a false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information, and monitor to see if US Chamber Watch acquires it". To help make this happen, they'd "create a fake insider persona and generate communications" with Change to Win, a labour group the firm theorised might be allied to Chamber Watch. Maybe they'd even "create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second". But it didn't stop there: the security firms proposed passing off the faked documents they'd created as the fabrication of Change to Win.
We wish we could credit these jokesters with some originality – especially given the fees they were planning to charge – but there's actually nothing new here. These dirty tricks are straight out of the playbook of COINTELPRO, the FBI's notorious 1960s programme of psychological warfare that, among other things, planted false reports and forged letters to destroy reputations. Lately, COINTELPRO tactics have been making a comeback on the right, inspiring a whole new generation of "dirty tricks" operators, along with their patrons in the rightwing media and their sponsors in Congress. But it isn't just "gross and offensive" kids (Andrew Breitbart's words) who are taking up old rightwing techniques. It's actually a very big business.
Two things to note, and one thing to take away from this.
Note 1 .... This is not published in an American newspaper. That's neither a surprise nor a coincidence. And what it should tell any thinking person is to not to give a single dime to an American paper until they do start to run stories like this. They used to. But not any more. Which is why I don't waste my time reading anything but the latest Nuggets score ... and even when it comes to sports, the local paper sucks. If I listened to those idiots, I'd be surprised Carmelo wasn't traded to New Jersey months ago.
Note 2 .... You will see no government prosecution of these activities. All of this is occurring with the blessing of the US government. This is of course because almost every Congressperson, Senator and even the President is bought by the same people this 'security firm' is pitching their services to. Most of the employees of such a firm were trained by your US tax dollars, and the US government, nor any state attorney general, seems to have any problems with them spying on private citizens and subverting American democracy.
And, what to take away from this. DON'T STOP ORGANIZING. You will of course run into forged documents and smear campaigns and subversive 'volunteers' who always seem to cause more trouble and fights than provide any help. If for instance, the local Green Party has people who want to start fights with anyone who tries to be active, and then spends most of their time trying to figure out which Democrats to endorse, then you've probably found them. Don't worry about it. Just go around them.
Take note of the people who are on your side. Take note of the people who help you out. Then stick with those people. When you get someone who's always causing trouble, just try to ignore them. Slide them out of the loop, and work with the people who actually help.
But, no matter what. Don't stop organizing. Don't get frustrated when your efforts are thwarted by the millions of dollars available from corporate America and from the corporate political parties. Just note who your real friends are, and move on. And keep on organizing. That's the key. Never stop organizing.
COINTELPRO has never gone away. Its just been privatized. That's ok, as long as we realize what's really going on when some agent provocateur seems to scuttle a bunch of hard organizing work with these sorts of dirty tricks. Just notice who were your friends, just notice who was being useful and helpful, and stick with them no matter what forged documents come up nor what the spies within will try to do to separate you. Stick with the people who help. Ignore, and move past, the people who don't.